What's 'Retirement Eli' like? Manning opens up in video chat with Victor Cruz
It's the question every Giants fan wants to know after the longest-tenured player in franchise history announced his retirement earlier this year. The two-time Super Bowl MVP, who is staying at home like much of the world with his wife and four children, checked in this past weekend with former teammate Victor Cruz.
"I don't know if it's quite totally kicked in and just hit yet just because I haven't missed anything yet from a football standpoint," he said. "I've still been working out kind of just staying healthy. I've kind of always had this trainer I've worked with a few years and I told him, when he knew I was going to retire, I still want to keep working out and doing things; we'll just change it up a little bit. I went for that first workout and he's like, 'All right, we've got squats today and we've got dead-lifts.' I said, 'I don't think you heard my conversation. I'm retiring. I'm not playing football.' He's like, 'Yeah, you've still got to do this stuff.' I thought it was just like do a few burpees and do some push-ups and it would be so much easier. But that wasn't the case.
"So I've kept up with my workouts. I do love playing golf. I will pick that up once the weather gets right and we're allowed back on golf courses. But I'm spending a lot of time with the family. I got to coach my 9-year-old's basketball team this year, which was awesome. I love doing that and being around them. They actually listen to you when you're around other girls. … They listen and realize I do know something about some sports."
That he does.
Below are more highlights from the conversation between Manning and Cruz.
On Tom Brady transitioning from the New England Patriots to Tampa Bay Buccaneers: "It's just going to be different. I thought about, this year if I didn't retire and trying to go to a different team and a different organization when you've been somewhere for so long, and he's been in New England longer than I was with the Giants and had won championships and just had so much success, I think it would be just so hard to leave just because wherever you go it's not going to be the same. There's just going to be little differences that you're like, 'Well, that's strange. It shouldn't be that way, but it is.'
"He's only been around only one head coach and [Bill] Belichick has his style and has his way, and that's what he's used to. Kind of like it, dislike it, it works, they're winning championships and making playoffs every year and all of a sudden there's going to be little things that are just different or you don't like and will he be able to adjust? This whole pandemic that we're going through now and not knowing when he's going to be able to meet up with his teammates and work out with teammates and learn this offense and kind of being around those guys and just build that camaraderie that he's been used to for 18 years in New England, it's just going to be different. It's going to be interesting to see how it all plays out. Obviously he still has a ton of ability and knows how to win championships and is so clutch and all those things."
View photos behind the scenes from Eli Manning's retirement day
On life in the Manning household with three young daughters and a little son: "Having three girls in [video] classes and setting up their little locations where they can concentrate while having a wild man running around the whole time screaming, it's been interesting. But obviously we're so fortunate that we're here, we're healthy, we have everything that's important right here under one roof and just every day saying our prayers and being thankful and also just wishing all those people out there who are fighting this – the nurses, the doctors, the hospitals every day who are kind of on the front lines. Just thanking them for their tremendous work, their dedication. While so many people have been asked to sit back and stay at home and do nothing is the safest thing to do, these people have been asked to step up and put their lives on the line to help save this country."
On focusing on the good times in retirement: "You get to pick and choose the memories you want to think about. When it's all over, I don't have to do any more interviews. I don't have to talk about losses anymore. I don't have to talk about an interception. All I remember are touchdowns and wins and celebrations and the good moments in the locker room. That's all I have to worry about and talk about. If anyone asks me about a loss, I say I don't remember those. Those have been erased from the memory. I only think about the good times."
Cruz played a part in some of those good times, namely a 99-yard touchdown against the Jets in the 2011 playoff push and then scoring again in Super Bowl XLVI. He asked Manning which was his favorite Super Bowl, to which he replied: "Championships are like kids. You don't have favorites."
However, he admitted there is something about that first Super Bowl.
"Just because it is the unknown," Manning said. "It is like that first child. When you go through that for the very first time, you don't know what your emotions are going to be. The first time you hold that trophy, the first time you hold your daughter – I'm not saying those two experiences are the same. Having a child is much different than a Super Bowl, but it's comparable in the sense that it is such kind of a raw emotion that until you do it, you don't know what the feeling is. It's kind of like, in that first Super Bowl, when the clock runs down and there's zero seconds left and all of a sudden you just – what do you do? You run around the field with no destination in sight. You just run screaming and then you eventually lock eyes with somebody and you don't talk about and you just hug. That's the reaction. You just have to run wild and then you hug."